December 26-27, 2015
Hopefully, you had a happy Thanksgiving and a joyful Christmas holiday and feel grateful for the blessings and even the hardships of the past year. Weirdly tucked into this long season is the phenomenon of commercialism and shopping that is supposed to get us in the mood for the season of giving. Following this giving tradition, we purchase or make small tokens of appreciation for those who have provided some service to us through the year—teachers, kids’ bus drivers, the letter carrier, different vendors for Lighthouse, as well as some neighbors. The gifts are always received with such happiness and delight.
Have you ever had the experience of carrying a gift for someone, but running into someone else who thinks the gift is his or hers? Someone mistakenly assumes the gift is his, reaches for it and expectantly asks, “Is this for me?” Then he begins thanking you profusely as you awkwardly place it in his arms because you don’t know what else to do. His face lights up, full of shocked glee, searching for something to give you in return, all because of miscommunication combined with the unwritten rules of relational etiquette.
I was struck by how a simple act of (unintended) kindness brought such happiness to one particular person. For a few minutes, that gift transformed the man’s day. Based on his reaction, it’s fair to say he was in desperate need of some attention and kindness. I know I have been on the receiving end of acts of kindness. In the weeks before Christmas, some of our vendors send unexpected gifts. Such a warm and loving feeling immediately ushers in hope and promise for that day and for the future. It really is so cool when unexpected blessings interrupt our days.
We all are beaten down by this world at times, making it hard to notice how God wants to work through us to touch others and address their needs. Sometimes though, God uses others to reach out to us through their actions. But if your head is down in self-pity, frustration, bitterness or resignation, you won’t see those people God is bringing into your life to impact you, nor will you see the person you can impact. Helping others and offering God’s gift of love and Jesus will impact them and you in amazing ways. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Today, think of one or two people whose lives you might change, even for a few minutes, by delivering some unexpected kindness. There are so many people around us who live in quiet desperation. I doubt you will have to look far. And if you take a moment to scratch the surface, you will see their need. Maybe one of them lives in your own home. Be a Lighthouse and shine God’s love on others. If you are struggling, look up and pay attention. God is reaching out to you. But you have to be looking for God’s grace and comfort in order to receive it. Look for the Lighthouse He puts in your life. Whether you embrace the role of giving or receiving a gift with humble understanding of God’s majesty or you shy away and keep your head down as you believe gifts are only generated by you or for you because of your works is your decision, so choose well.
O God, I thank You, Father, for leading me to others who are in need of some kindness. I confess, Lord, that I am much too focused on myself—my issues and my needs. Sometimes I let the events that don’t go my way distract me from understanding and seeing Your love in my life. I pray that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and guide me to those in need of love and attention. Let them see Your radiant light shining through me and onto them. Help me to appreciate Your wonderful servants who bring Your love, compassion and grace to me. I pray in the name of the one You sent to transform me though forgiveness and love, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
“‘You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:13,14